End of an Era: Ireland Says Farewell to the Iconic Payphone Boxes

  • Original K1 phone kiosk, a century-old piece of history, to be donated for public exhibition
  • More than 200 payphones converted to electric vehicle charging stations or digital kiosks
  • 25 donated to community organisations for various uses, including tourism kiosks and defibrillator sites


22nd of February 2024 Dublin, Ireland - Marking the end of an era and almost 100 years after they first appeared on the streets of Ireland, eir - Ireland’s leading telecommunications company - today announced that the removal of the last remaining payphone boxes across Ireland will take place over the coming months. As a tribute to the end of the payphone era, eir has restored a 100-year-old 'K1' kiosk, the first type of payphone box introduced in Ireland, for public exhibition later this year. The kiosk is one of only seven known examples in Ireland or the UK and will be donated to preserve a part of Irish heritage.


Since their introduction, payphone boxes have been a familiar sight on the streets of Ireland, serving the public before the advent of mobile phones, and at a time when landline phones were an exception rather than the rule in Irish homes. The Universal Service Obligation (USO) for the Provision of Public Payphones was removed in 2020 due to steady decline in usage. At their peak, approximately 3,300 payphone boxes dotted the Irish landscape, complemented by over 5,000 indoor units.


Since the removal of the USO, eir has implemented programmes to repurpose this legacy infrastructure and retain the space for community service where possible. Six of the iconic concrete Posts & Telegraphs (P&T) kiosks now house life-saving defibrillators. Adding to the community-centric approach, two towns have creatively adapted newer aluminium kiosks into tourist pods, offering leaflets and information about local places of interest, and one has been transformed into a religious shrine.


In a push towards sustainable energy solutions, eir in partnership with EasyGo are installing 142 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. To date, 76 rapid electric vehicle chargers have been installed, with an additional 66 on the way. Furthermore, 60 payphones have already been transformed into digital kiosks which are designed to play a role that is more suitable to city life today, not only as a point of connectivity, but as an information system for the local authorities services including mapping systems for visitors and locals. Of the 105 remaining kiosks, 11 will become digital pedestals, while the other 94 are set to be removed by the end of the year.


eir’s CEO Oliver Loomes “The public payphone was an important part of our lives for generations and it is fitting that to mark this, we have carefully refurbished one of the original phone boxes and we plan to donate it to a cultural institution where it can be preserved as an integral part of our national heritage. We've taken deliberate steps, in collaboration with communities and local authorities, to thoughtfully transition this legacy infrastructure. Our goal has been over the past four years to find the best ways to repurpose or preserve these kiosks, directly involving the communities they serve. We are pleased that more than 200 sites will now keep people connected via new digital pedestals or electric car charging points. The programme complements our ongoing investment of €250 million a year building out a world class fibre broadband and 5G mobile network across Ireland”


Una Stafford Managing Director open eir Networks, commented "The removal of the last payphone boxes by the end of this year is a symbolic step towards a more connected, digital future. While we close this chapter in Ireland's telecommunication history, we open another, focusing on innovative solutions that align with the needs of our communities and the environment. The phase-out decision was based on extensive analysis of usage patterns, with data showing a consistent decrease in demand. eir remains dedicated to ensuring accessible communication for everyone, continually investing in digital infrastructure upgrades”.


About eir 

eir is the largest provider of fixed line telecommunications services in Ireland, offering broadband, voice, TV, data services as well as networking, security and managed services to residential, small business, enterprise and government segments. eir is the third largest mobile operator in Ireland in terms of revenue and customers. The company operates the eir mobile and GoMo services. eir’s wholesale division, open eir, is the largest wholesale telecommunications operator in Ireland, providing products and services to national and international wholesale customers across a range of regulated and unregulated markets.


For further information, please contact: PressOffice@eir.ie